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Hyacinth Beans (Bai Bian Dou)

Close up of Hyacinth Beans (Bai Bian Dou)

What are Hyacinth Beans (Bai Bian Dou)?

Hyacinth Beans (bai bian dou, 白扁豆), also known as Semen Lablab Album, are the dried ripe seeds of the Dolichos Lablab L plant. This plant that has white flowers and thin pods usually ripens during the autumn and winter. In China, these plants are grown in provinces such as Zhejiang and Jiangsu. 

After the pods are harvested, they are then dried under the sun, and its seeds are then removed and dried for medicinal usage. Hyacinth Beans of good quality are big, smooth, heavy, as well as an off-white, yellowish surface.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Hyacinth Beans fall under the category of ‘Tonic herbs for Qi Deficiency’. Such herbs are used for patterns of deficiency where one lacks qi, blood, yin and yang. Warm in nature, White Hyacinth Beans can help individuals who have too much Cold in their body, such as those experiencing a Yin Excess or a Yang Deficiency, to restore a harmonious yin-yang balance.

Sweet in taste, Hyacinth Beans can slow down acute reactions, detoxify the body, and have a tonic effect because they replenish qi and blood. In particular, Hyacinth Beans target the Spleen and stomach.

Functions and Benefits of Hyacinth Beans (Bai Bian Dou)

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) shows that Hyacinth Beans (Bai Bian Dou) have the following health benefits.

When temperature rises and humidity increases, the Heat and Dampness can combine to affect one’s health. Hyacinth Beans can clear Dampness and Summer-Heat from the body to relieve associated symptoms such as vomiting, nausea, diarrhoea, dysentery and loud borborygmus.

Also, Hyacinth Beans can strengthen one’s Spleen while resolving Dampness, which makes it an effective form of treatment for symptoms of Spleen Deficiency. For example, Hyacinth Beans can relieve symptoms such as chronic diarrhoea, loose stools, lethargy, fatigue, lack of appetite, celiac disease and excess vaginal discharge. In particular, chronic diarrhoea is likely caused by the lack of absorption of nutrients in the body.  Hyacinth Beans can strengthen the Spleen and stomach systems, which work together to improve one’s nutrient absorption.

Young children who are underweight or experiencing poor appetite and soft stools are likely to be malnourished, and thus have weak Spleens. Hyacinth Beans will benefit these children too.

Other than the above Hyacinth Beans benefits, these beans can also remove toxins for the body. Hyacinth Beans are often used to treat alcohol poisoning and food poisoning. While Hyacinth Beans cannot prevent a hangover, they are effective in aiding the recovery following a heavy drinking session.

Close up of Hyacinth Beans (Bai Bian Dou)
Hyacinth Beans (Bai Bian Dou) helps to relieve gastrointestinal discomforts, such as stomach flu.

How to Use Hyacinth Beans (Bai Bian Dou)

The recommended daily dosage of Bai Bian Dou is 10 – 30g, when used as a decoction. The herb usually comes in its dry-fried form as fresh Bai Bian Dou are toxic.

Many choose to use Bai Bian Dou in soup. You can simply wash the beans thoroughly and add them to your soup. For softer beans, you may want to soak the beans in room temperature water for a couple of hours before using them in your soup.

Bai Bian Dou are usually available in most herbal stores and specialty markets.

Cautions and Side Effects of Hyacinth Beans (Bai Bian Dou)

Hyacinth Beans should not be used by individuals experiencing intermittent fevers or chills. Also, individuals experiencing other cold disorders should avoid this herb for the time being.

Do avoid using Hyacinth Beans in their raw form as they contain toxicity.

We strongly encourage you to consult your healthcare provider before deciding to add Hyacinth Beans to your healthcare routine!


Here is a summary for Hyacinth Beans (Bai Bian Dou):

  • Herb name (Chinese): 白扁豆
  • Herb name (Pin Yin): bái biǎn dòu
  • Herb name (English): White Hyacinth Bean
  • Herb name (Botanical): Semen Lablab Album
  • Origin of species: Dolichos lablab L.
  • Part(s) of herb used: Seed
  • Geo-specific habitat(s): Jiangsu, Henan, Anhui
  • Taste(s) & Properties: Sweet; Slightly warm; Administrates the Spleen and Stomach Meridians
  • Actions: Nourishes and improves Spleen functions; Helps to relieve gastrointestinal discomforts, such as stomach flu

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